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The most flexible loyalty programs. 
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Loyalty Blog


While you may not require a full-featured loyalty program with all the bells and whistles to run a successful business, you do most certainly need a plan for customer retention. If you have a process to store customer preferences, track customer spending/activity, and communicate personalized and relevant messages then you’re on the right track! If your company is not yet set up to do these things, or if you’re looking for additional activity/promotion tracking, and customer engagement, you may want to consider looking into a loyalty program software for your business. 

The right loyalty program software will allow you to:

- Track customer activity and identify your top spenders
- Identify customer preferences / custom data that is relevant to your businesses
- Review your most successful promotions (what appeals to your target)
- Have the ability to incentivize customers for spending/visiting more
- Allow additional incentives for specific actions (such as referrals) or events
- Provide an easy way for your customers to sign up for your program, and check their balance 

 

 

1. Businesses Don't Promote It. 

One of the most important things merchants don’t do (or don’t do well) is promote their new loyalty program to their customers. You have a great new program, you’ve worked hard to make sure that the rewards would be enticing and exciting for your customers, however they’ll never know about it if you don’t tell them! 

If you don’t have time to develop the point of purchase marketing materials, designate a “program champion” to oversee the loyalty program management. Order some basic promotional materials from your local print shop (or VistaPrint is a great tool) and order a small quantity of signs, banners, window stickers or whatever works in your space. Loyalty Gator offers free table tent cards customized with your own logo that you can place on counter tops (or tables) to create customer awareness in-store. Don’t forget to promote your program on your website and if possible, create a new page dedicated to your customer rewards program. Outline how the program works and highlight the great perks available. Loyalty Gator provides links you can place on your website so customers can easily sign up for your program and check their point balance. Explain the benefits of joining your loyalty program. Will customers receive a free pita after the purchase of 10? Will they get to stand in the VIP express line next time? Could they win a chance to design their own pita to be placed on the menu next month? Ensure your staff is educated about the program and able to promote the benefits to customers in-store.

 

 


Ontario recently passed Bill 47 to ban an expiry of loyalty program points in the province, sparked by backlash from consumers to an expiry deadline for members of Air Miles. The Air Miles reward program launched in 1992 and has more than eleven million Canadian active collector accounts. Saving their Miles for years, many had their hearts set on a luxury dream vacation one day that may otherwise not be possible.

One consumer, 38-year-old Edgar Governo saved up his Miles to go on a trip to Europe however was informed of changes to the program where all points five years or older would now expire at the end of 2016. While the notice was announced in 2011, some members felt they were provided with little or no reminders. Because it would have taken him about another year or two to collect the remaining points needed, Edgar would no longer be able to take the trip to Europe. He did not want to lose the value of his Miles so instead rushed to use approximately 10,000 points for two round-trip tickets and accommodations to Portland, OR just to later learn in November 2016 that the Air Miles program would in fact drop the expiry plan set for the end of the year. Many others like Edgar expressed their anger on social media, wishing that they had not scrambled to use up their Air Miles on items they didn’t really want just to meet the company’s deadline.

 

 

Many loyalty vendors offer a shared rewards network where customers can shop at various retailers across the state/province, or even throughout the country. Customers earn and redeem points at participating merchants. The more retailers that join this type of program, the more attractive it looks to customers. This sounds great but there are some disadvantages to these shared loyalty programs across unlimited retailers where the customer is often loyal to the program, but not to each retailer.

You’re not getting a competitive advantage

You have no control over which merchants participate in the shared loyalty program. If you own a bakery in a small town and share a coalition rewards program with two other bakery shops down the street, what incentive do customers have to visit? They’re going to earn points no matter which bakery they choose so they may not perceive any added value at your location. If there’s no added value, does it make sense to offer a rewards program at all?   

 


It's always a good idea to revisit your loyalty program structure and perks to answer this question: "Is this program still relevant and exciting for my customers?". Because customer preferences change, and customer demographics shift (there are about 80 million Millenials rapidly taking over from the baby boomers), you'll want to ensure you're always relevant to your audience. If you don't know what your customers want, just ask them! A simple survey with just a few key questions can help you identify what they love about your program and what they would like to see in the future. A customer loyalty survey by COLLOQUY reveals the top reasons customers engage with loyalty programs and also why they may stop participating. 

The Two biggest reasons members continue to participate in loyalty programs:

1. The program is easy to understand (87%)
Ensure your programs structure is easy to follow so customers clearly understand how to earn points and what rewards they can redeem. Try to keep rules simple so customers don't become frustrated.

 


While your customers may love your rewards program, they still need to receive a positive overall experience with your business/brand consistently to make the relationship work. Your loyalty program should complement your customer experience, not try to replace it.

Here are a few must-haves when trying to ensure a great customer experience:

  • Friendly staff who are helpful and knowledgeable
  • Hassle-free returns
  • Good product selection / in-stock items
  • Seamless website experience (easy to navigate, quick check-out process, etc)
  • Go above and beyond by adding personalization and make your customers feel special (this is where your loyalty program comes in)

 

 

Engaged employees provide better customer service, leaving your customers feeling good about their experience with your company/brand. Staff engagement also improves profitability, productivity, creativity, and morale, while decreasing turnover.

"Companies with high employee engagement scores had twice the customer loyalty (repeat purchases, recommendations to friends) than companies with average employee engagement levels" - Kevin Kruse, Author of Employee Engagement 2.0 and Employee Engagement for Everyone

If you're not sure how engaged your staff members are, you may consider issuing a survey in which they can complete anonymously (you'll get much more valuable feedback if you don't ask them to include their names). A rating scale can help you determine their feedback in areas such as:

 


Here are a few interesting (and alarming) customer service facts as a reminder of just how important the entire customer experience is!

  • 78% of consumers have bailed on a transaction or not made an intended purchase because of poor customer service
  • Over 50% of consumers would try a new brand or company to get better customer service
  • 70% of Americans (and 69% of Canadians) said they are willing to spend more with companies they believe provide excellent customer service 
  • Over 80% of consumers believe that smaller companies place a greater emphasis on customer service than large businesses
  • Consumers in USA and Canada tell an average of 9 people about a good experience but tell 16 people about a poor customer service experience 

 

The Millennial demographic (born between 1981 - 1997) have different values when it comes to loyalty. Recent COLLOQUY: Customer Loyalty 2015 & Beyond study reveals that 34% of Millennials considered "fun" to be the word that best describes their participation in a customer reward program. Millennials indicated that they joined a loyalty program for the primary reason of acquiring access to members-only sales, products, and services. They seek out exclusive member-only access perks and enjoy gamification-based programs such as tiers where they can work towards gaining additional benefits. 49% of participants said they have stopped using merchant loyalty programs because of irrelevant communications. When speaking to this group, ensure that you're collecting smart data to understand your customer better and send them messages that make sense. Get to know their preferences. Get to know them! If they recently purchased iPhone accessories from your company, then they would likely be interested to learn that you just received some new iPhone gadgets to help them personalize their phone - and better yet - invite them in for a sneak preview before the general public! 

 


If a customer leaves your business with a poor experience, will you know about it? Today, customers are more likely to share their service experiences with others online, with 45% sharing bad customer service reviews via social media. Now more than ever, businesses need to be ensuring every customer service experience is a positive one with fear that negative comments may end up online forever! While you can’t watch and listen to your employees’ every move you can find out how your customers felt about their visit minutes after they leave your store. 

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